NEWS FROM THE DIOCESES
 
SOUTH AMERICAN DIOCESE: August 2, 2004

Epistle of Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
August 2, 2004

Holy Prophet Elias

Honorable Fathers, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

I thank all of you from all my heart for your love and holy prayers for my health!

Recently I completed the course of chemotherapy for cancer. Last week, after a complete examination, no signs of cancer or other growths were found. Glory to God that this exceedingly difficult therapy is over!

The only thing that still bothers me is the occasional intestinal pain in the area where the cancer was removed. My physicians believe that this is either a pinched muscle or a nerve that regenerated incorrectly. In the near future the doctors hope that they will eliminate the cause of these pains, or that they will cease on their own.

Now, with Godís help, I am gradually regaining strength, and will serve more often and become more active. Still, I will need to look after my health and get a hospital checkup every three months to guard against new growths.

For this reason I will only be able to make one or two brief visits to South America. I hope to make more extensive trips throughout the diocese next year. I thank everyone for their understanding and patience!

Now I wish to say a few words on current church events. Firstly, I ask everyone to abide in peace and unity of mind. Nothing is threatening our Church, everything is proceeding well and properly.

I am gladdened by the discussions and meetings occurring now between our committee and the committee of the Moscow Patriarchate on the matter of the rapprochement of our Churches. These discussions are being held in complete seriousness, in a business-like and amicable atmosphere.

One of the participants of these discussions, Archimandrite Luke, described them thusly:

“[In these discussions] [t]here were absolutely no attempts made to smooth over or black out the complicated matters of the relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate, including Sergianism, ecumenism and other vital, burning questions. The Committee of the Moscow Patriarchate frankly expressed its position on the matters in question, and in a general sense we often reached a common opinion… The general atmosphere of the discussions in Germany and Moscow was that of seriousness and sobriety… Never was there felt a desire to hastily resolve problems for gain.”

For this reason the fear among some of our clergymen and laity on these discussions are baseless, although for me entirely understandable: fear of communism, which seized our much-suffering homeland, and the mistrust towards the church that had been enslaved there at one time were “taken in with our motherís milk.” But, glory to God, the godless state fell and crumbled, as ashes in the wind.

I personally feel that discussions on complete unification with the Moscow Patriarchate would be premature. In the situation that has developed, our Church Abroad must preserve its administrative independence and complete uncompromising stance in matters of principle. The discussions should concentrate on the rapprochement between our Churches, the cessation of all enmity and the establishment of Eucharistic communion. This is not only desirable, but necessary.

It would be sinful on our part to ignore that heretofore unseen spiritual elevation, the ubiquitous renascence we observe in Russia now. Even worse would be active opposition to the spiritual nearing of the two branches of the once-united Russian Church and to insist on the continuation of war “to the last drop of blood.” Such an antagonistic attitude is entirely unfounded even on the basis of the fact that at each divine service we pray for the “union of the holy Churches of God.” With whom, one might ask, should we draw closer and work together, if not our own brethren by blood and by faith?!

Truly, that which is happening in Russia now is a miracle of the Omnipotent God, for which we had prayed over the course of our 80 years of exile. Seeing the changes occurring in Russia now, I am convinced that our New Martyrs did not spill their blood for naught. Their blood is, in the words of the Christian apologist of old, the seed of the birth of new Christians.

And so, my beloved ones, I ask you to case aside unneeded worries, brought upon us by the enemy of the mankind, who sleeps not in seeking paths to break us apart and cause disagreement among us. Let us pray that the discussions between our Churches serve towards the glory of God and the strengthening of our Church.

I feel that the spiritual condition now has more that ripened for rapprochement between our Churches, and so it is necessary to make every effort to establish amicable relationsóthis is our sacred duty. The time has come to heal the wounds inflicted upon the Church by the godless regime.

In conclusion, I ask the Reverend Rectors of the South American Diocese, and also active parishioners, to distribute this epistle as widely as possible.

May the Lord bless all of you!

With love in Christ,

+Bishop Alexander